– If you haven’t found a place to stay, the KEX hostel is pretty awesome. Go there anyway for free jazz concerts at night if you’re not staying there.
– Main Tourist Things:
– The church
– The harbor (and the concert hall there)
– The duck pond
– Weekend night life (tons of people all crowded into bars)
– The flea market on Saturdays and Sundays
– Eating shark (it’s terrible, but an experience)
– Not as touristy things:
– The Penis museum
– The Raven’s Nest – a house made of recycled parts by a famous icelandic director
– The hot dog stand
– Eating sheeps head at the bus station (I seem to remember you’re vegetarian though so nevermind…)
– In that case also forget to eat puffin and whale, but skyr on the other hand is a cheese with yogurt style viscosity
– The Golden Circle (meh, a little overrated, but Gullfoss is quite nice)
– The Blue Lagoon (expensive and only worth the view. for actual hot spring water experiences try the local pools for 1/10th the price)
– Aurora Borealis tours (not worth it since you have your own car, but make sure to check the aurora forecast at vedur.is )
Not so touristy
– Krysivik (I do not claim to spell any of these names correctly) park is near blue lagoon, somewhat nice and just a short drive if you have nothing else to do
– Hellisheidi Power Plant: really interesting from an engineering perspective, and interesting to know about the geothermal energy situation
Ok, now outside the greater Reykjavik area, you might want to decide how you want to do things. It takes about 9 hours (including stops) to drive between each third of the island, so going clockwise it would be 9 hours between Reykjavik and Akureyri, 9 hours between Akureyri and Hofn, and another 9 between Hofn and Reykjavik. That’s a padded estimate but helps for calculations.
But simply driving around the country is an amazing experience on its own.
The Snaefellsjokull peninsula is 2 hours north of Reykjavik but really beautiful. There’s a bunch of seagull cliffs, some hiking paths, a lighthouse with a pebble beach next to it (really REALLY smooth rocks), a beach with a dead whale (if you’re into that, which I am), and some fishing villages, and a glacier which is currently inaccessible.
The northern fjords I don’t know anything about, except they’re out of the way and usually not so accessible in the winter
Hvitserkur is a weird rock formation that makes for a good photo and that’s about it, but I didn’t go there.
The nearby town of Hvammstangi has seals usually, but we went in the wrong season for them.
Then stop at Glaumbaer for some turf roof houses (although you’ll see them in other places too)
Not too much to do in the town. There’s a church, and a great ice cream shop (I think it’s famous). The hostel is nice and has a spa.
Worth a day trip, and a few things to do. Dimmuborgir, the stone forest, has a few hikes (probably a lot better during the summertime). There’s a giant crater, and a cave, some steam vents and hot springs that smell terrible, and a mountain lagoon that was completely frozen over and not so interesting when we went. I think a lot more is accessible in the summertime, as I said.
Nearby is also Dettifoss, the largest waterfall, but I couldn’t go there since the roads were closed. Also up that same road is Asbyrgi, which is supposedly an amazing formation.
There’s Husavik, a fishing village that we only really saw in the night time… but should be worth seeing during daylight hours.
Then along the east there’s not too much, but it’s a very nice drive. I recommend doing the coastal path once you get past that major town that starts with an E.
Hofn has some good lobster, but as far as I know that’s about it. The hostel there feels more like a hotel, but that’s HI hostels in general.
Ok, here is where the tourist sights are:
Jokulsarlon – the glacier lagoon. everyone loves this
Skaftafell National Park – some waterfalls and glaciers
The glaciers near Skaftafell – lots of tours go here, and there’s some ice caves in Svinasfelljokull that look amazing in photos but we weren’t able to find them. Might need a tour
Vik – Another small town, where many people stay the night, nearby there’s a rock formation that’s very picturesque
Skogafoss – Big waterfall with a rainbow in front of it if the sun is out
Seljalandfoss – another waterfall that you can walk around the back of
There’s also Thorsmork national park, which is near seljalandfoss, but I didn’t go there.
As for non tourist things, there are some black dunes near Hofn, a small road before the tunnel heading northbound will lead you there. There’s also a crashed DC3 plane on the coast near Skogafoss that you can see from google satellite, but it’s a hike to get to.
If you had more time I would suggest going to the West Man Islands, but it’s a huge pain to get to and because the ferry is always changing ports and time schedules it’s probably not worth trying for.
And I’m sure I’m missing a lot of things but that’s what I can think of right now. Look up the names on google image search for an idea of what each place looks like. Hope that helps!